Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Kacey Musgraves searches for lasting peace on Deeper Well

"Deeper Well"

Release date: 15 March 2024
Kacey Musgraves Deeper Well cover
18 March 2024, 09:00 Written by Tanatat Khuttapan

Kacey Musgraves' sixth album feels like the aftermath of a violent crisis.

Her Saturn returned a while ago (as did Ariana Grande’s and SZA’s). Since then, life has been settling down nicely, but she still moves forward with anxious apprehension, afraid to relive those wretched days of the turbulent past. “I’ve been scared to give again,” she confesses in lighthearted “Too Good to Be True”. Mature is what she strives to be after a post-divorce record about the loss of self: looking back without a grudge, and moving on with more caution than before. On the spiritual and cloudy landscape of Deeper Well, she’s determined to find lasting peace.

These songs are an exemplar of the serene flow state. Steady in progression, they have a stark focus on self-recuperation that’s hardly present on star-crossed. No grand buildups, no radio bangers nor sun-lit imagery – just pensive, cottage-core compositions that make you sit and wonder what was and what will be. In “Dinner With Friends”, Musgraves lists every scenario for which she’s grateful – and each time with a dreamier airiness. Her painting-precise rendition of them is certain to excite deep contemplation in listeners, an offer of transcendent ecstasy.

Musgraves’s album openers are always excellent, and that of Deeper Well is no less. “Cardinal”, a heartfelt ode to John Prine, symbolises the titular songbird for mystical ebullience and the irrefutable healing power of nature. The rigorous Fleetwood Mac–like rhythm fuels her yearning for spiritual connection; you can picture her chasing after the floating lights as in the title track’s ethereal music video, desperate and in grief. This is the plain beauty of her songwriting: evocative and well-suited for the breezy pedal steel and guitar. “Giver/Taker” and “Jade Green” are the same.

In 2021, the Grammys deemed star-crossed ineligible for their country/folk categories due to its genre-blending that leaned too much on pop. On Deeper Well, Musgraves’s macroscale influences remain, and, once again, they lessen the record’s holistic allure. “Lonely Millionaire” wildly interpolates “Kody Blu 31” by rapper JID, and “Too Good to Be True” a 00s Anna Nalick rock anthem, calling for the same self-reassurance. While her experiments are usually welcome (“Anime Eyes” is deliciously fun), these crossovers disrupt the album’s graceful momentum.

Deeper Well isn’t an attractive project; it requires sitting through with patience and an unbiased mindset. Nobody expected her to quash that poised optimism with a devastating “Golden hour faded black” line years after a sun-bleached magnum opus, and maybe a detour through slow-burn, forestrial music is essential to her process of regaining lost confidence. Despite the occasional lack of captivating subject matter, it signifies a grown woman embracing new beginnings. The grim clouds are already clearing towards the finale – a million little stars bursting, fluttering, ready for more grandeur.

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